In this interview, Hector Mooney, Brown University class of 2011, describes their experience traveling through Southeast Asia during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Mooney begins by explaining that they chose to attend Brown because the environment and politics were far different from their hometown’s in Virginia. They recall the transition from the Appalachian Mountains to Providence and cite how they learned to explore their gender identity while on campus. They also share how they came out to their parents and siblings.
Mooney goes on to detail the three-month trip they planned through Southeast Asia beginning in January 2020. They remember hearing about the Coronavirus shortly before leaving for the trip but deciding to go anyway. They talk about noticing more people wearing masks toward the end of their four-week stay in Malaysia and moving on to rural parts of Thailand that seemed unaffected by the virus. Mooney explains that they went on to Laos and were supposed to go to Japan by mid-March but as COVID-19 became a growing threat they decided to go back to Thailand to wait out the pandemic before returning home.
Mooney describes living on Koh Lanta and Koh Jum until mid-June. They talk about boat transportation shut downs, acquiring food on the islands, and finding longer-term lodging. They also address the economic challenges of island locals who rely on the tourist economy as well as the locals’ perception of the United States. At the time of this interview, Mooney had just arrived back in New York and closes by briefly discussing their travel and transition back to the States.